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Diesel Duck
Tranquility at Lake Sylvia
Marlene
06/21/2011, Ft. Lauderdale, FL

Many, many times have we visited Ft. Lauderdale, Florida by plane, car and by boat. If you come here to soak up some sunshine there is a seven mile beach lined with hotels of every kind. If you come by boat, you'll be astounded by the 165 miles of waterway, awed by the mega yachts tied up to properties of multimillion dollar villas and delighted by the marine stores and services to yachts. It's a boater's Mecca. Lake Sylvia had been one of our favorite anchor spots for years and it was not very well known, that is ever since "Skipper Bob" put it into their publication of "Anchorages along the ICW (Intracoastal Waterway). Now the word is out and this little gem of an anchorage gets more transient visitors. However, it has always been a favorite for locals to come here on the weekend for a little swim, waterskiing or just partying on the boat. To get onshore, we have to dinghy underneath one of the three very low bridges (duck your head at high tide) and motor through the canal, cross the ICW and dinghy into the canal where the gas station is located at the corner. A little further up is a public ramp, but the wall is rough. A better choice is at the end of the canal, where the Southport Raw Bar is located. They let you tie up your dinghy for $10 but this amount can be redeemed for food or drinks when you come back from your errands or shopping. By the way, their food is very good! Across from the restaurant is a Winn Dixie Supermarket, less than a quarter mile further is a Publix Supermarket and the Bluewater Charts store, plus a large ACE Hardware etc. A West Marine flagship store is just 15 min. away and will be replaced next November 2011 by a West Marine Superstore (the size of a Super Walmart) just past the famous Sailorman store on Route 84. This West Marine Superstore is going to be the largest West Marine store in the continental USA! They will be having Segway scooters for the sales people in the store. Sorry, not for the customer. Please keep this confidential, this is inside information ;-)
In the picture: Diesel Duck anchored in the evening at Lake Sylvia.

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Tourist Trap
Marlene
06/15/2011, Key West, Florida, USA

Key West is a tourist trap, but a nice one! Benno and I had never been here before, so after we checked into the country which turned out to be a quick and easy process thanks to the friendly officials at the airport, we played tourists and mingled with all the folks from the visiting cruise ship and other vacationers walking all over town in 90F temperatures. If you like to collect shells, but are never too successful in finding the good ones, then you need to rummage through Key West shell stores. Just about any type of shell, polished and in excellent condition is available for purchase. Many shell types for just pennies a piece. I guess it takes the fun out of the discovery, but who is to know? The greatest treasure hunter, Mel Fisher, has a store in town displaying the artifacts he found off the Florida coast. Now that we have seen how the silver coins look like at the time they are salvaged we know what to look for when we are poking our fingers in the ocean ;-) However, you can buy your treasure right in the store!
I thought the dinghy dock might give you an idea how busy the town was.

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HMS York
Marlene
06/14/2011, Key West, Florida, USA

Not being superstitious to start a voyage on a Friday, Diesel Duck motored out of the Governor's Creek, Grand Cayman on the morning of June 10th, heading for Key West, Florida, USA. The weather prognosis was good and we were able to use the jib sail in addition to the main during the day. In the evening the wind died down and from then on for the rest of our voyage the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico were windless and the seas were flat calm. Perfect for any motor vessel! Just before sunset on Monday we dropped our anchor in the anchoring field at Key West.
Britan's fastest destroyer warship the "HMS York" was in town after her five month deployment in the southern oceans on her way home. Couldn't help it, but I had to snap a picture of her while we motored by.

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We are new grandparents again!
Marlene
06/06/2011, Cayman Islands

Wonderful news reached us this morning. Our second grandchild, Annaliese Lili was born this morning. Welcome to the world! We are thrilled and can't wait to meet her. Mom and child are well and are resting.
And so is dad ;-)

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06/24/2011 | Hillu
Hello little Annaliese Lili, welcome to the world...Hillu and Hans von der "Destiny"
Curious, but shy iguana
Marlene
06/02/2011, Cayman Islands

Iguanas run around wild on the lawns here on the island. This big fellow hung around on the dock where we tied up our dinghy. Meanwhile some of his cousins had claimed one of the sailboats, making it their lounge pad. If you chase them, be surprised at how fast they can run.



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Airy three bedroom house for you?
Marlene
06/01/2011, Cayman Islands

There are many tree houses and playhouses erected on the properties here on the island. This one, built like a ship in and on the tree caught my eye. Guess the real estate agent for the main building had a sense of humor too.

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Map of the Cayman Islands
Marlene
05/31/2011, Cayman Islands

The Cayman Islands are made up of three islands: Grand Cayman = 76 square miles, Cayman Brac = 15 square miles and Little Cayman = 10 square miles. The population is around 50,000 with 1.5 million visitors per year. Even during the summer months (May to October) there are sometimes 6 cruise ships visiting on the same day. The Cayman Islands are known for its tax free status and Grand Cayman Island is recognized as an international finance centre. It has the highest standard of living in the Caribbean. But people come here not only for the duty free shopping, the Cayman's waters provide some of the world's best dives.

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We are anchored here!
Marlene
05/31/2011, Grand Cayman Islands

From the harbor of George Town we motored up and around the island, through a channel into the North Sound which is displaying only 7.5 to 9 feet of depth and further on into Governors Creek. It is a pretty lagoon where we are swinging under anchor in 15 feet of water together with a handful of other cruising boats. This lagoon is protected on one side by mangroves and surrounded by upscale homes and multimillion dollar mansions sitting on estates bordering on canals similar to Ft. Lauderdale. A short dinghy ride through the canals is where we tie up at a wooden boats dock. Across from the street is the "Cost U Less" very well stocked Supermarket at the Governors Square Shopping Center. And parallel runs the West Bay Road which gives access to the Seven Mile Beach. The tourism guide claims the Seven Mile Beach is the jewel of the Cayman Islands and the Caribbean's Best Beach! It is really 7 miles of white powdery sand and the water is a turquoise color with no rocks or anything visible in it.
Benno and I have taken the bus into the commercial district, visiting the A. L. Thompson's hardware store which is bigger and better stocked than the largest Home Depot we have ever seen. Also the Supermarkets are equal in size and quality merchandize to any North American store. This is a truly delightful island, so clean and well kept. The only downside is, there is no 3G service here, which means no internet through our cell phone and there is no open wifi or internet café near the lagoon. We have to visit the "perk Up" an upscale coffee shop which has free wifi for its customers.

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Grand Cayman and grand welcome!
Marlene
05/30/2011, Cayman Islands

In the morning of May 30th Diesel Duck tied up at the Custom's dock of George Town, Cayman Islands. We had left Shelter Bay Marina, Panama at 14:00 hrs on Thursday with blue skies and light winds. The next day at sea we were able to use our jib sail in addition to our main. On Saturday we were close hauled with increased wind and the seas started to slap our hull spraying our decks and windows with green water, encrusting everything with salt. On Sunday we had several squalls. One in particular that I clocked at 35 knots of wind with the rain coming down in sheets, then driving with such force over the sea that through the sheer pressure of the rain on the door, the water found its way through a tiny gap, gushing onto the floor like an open faucet. I was busy mopping while Benno had his hands full tying a reef into the main while he tried to brace himself in the wild motion and torrential downpour. So we were delighted to pull into the calm surroundings of the Grand Cayman harbor the next day. Four officials came onboard minutes after we tied up to check us into the country. Such efficiency, pleasant and friendly treatment we hadn't encountered for a long, long time. DD tied to the Custom's dock in this picture.

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OK, last picture before I put the lid on
Marlene
05/16/2011, Shelter Bay Marina, Panama

So there it is, the new generator. Working like a charm so far and I hope it will give us good service for a long time.

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05/23/2011 | Hillu
Hurra, Hurra - es ist geschafft !!!
Like a new car
Marlene
05/16/2011, Shelter Bay Marina, Panama

The feeling I have with the new generator running is like having a new car. All you want to do is drive it around for enjoyment!

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Oh, what a joy
Marlene
05/16/2011, Shelter Bay Marina

On Monday afternoon Benno flipped the switch on the instrument panel and the new generator started up. Purring like a kitten. With the sound cover on and the engine room hatch and door closed, all I hear is a humming sound. Music to my ears ;-)

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In position!
Marlene
05/14/2011, Shelter Bay Marina, Panama

Wow, the gen set is in position in front of the main engine. I left out many details, but you'll get the idea. it was a half a day's work to get it in with just the two of us.

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Turning around
Marlene
05/14/2011, Shelter Bay Marina

We are using a makeshift gantry from a cut off of 4x4 beam to hang up the generator from the cabin engine hatch in order to turn it sideways soon, but first we have to remove a couple wooden blocks to lower the cradle to the level of the generator bed. Note the little chain hoist we carry on bord of Diesel Duck. It comes handy once a while. Good to have on bord!

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Almost there
Marlene
05/14/2011, Shelter Bay Marina

Slowly does it!

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Sliding along
Marlene
05/14/2011, Shelter Bay Marina, Panama

Benno is pulling the gen set along the beams next to the main engine. It has to come all the way to the front of the engine room. Plenty of grease on top of the beams makes this task easy!

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So far so good
Marlene
05/14/2011, Shelter Bay Marina, Panama

OK, the gen set is almost in the engine room, over and beyond the door frame, sitting half way on the support beams.

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Next step
Marlene
05/14/2011, Shelter Bay Marina, Panama

To manufacture a strong cradle to be able to slide the generator, Benno is shortening the support beams to fit into the engine room, bolted together with 10 mm threaded rods and some shorter pieces it will support the generator safely.

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Hurry up with the picture!
Marlene
05/14/2011, Shelter Bay Marina, Panama

It looks amazingly easy, but the boom is holding our generator weighing 400+ pounds which is tilted to fit through the aft cabin hatch. Together we are lowering the gen set and then straightening it out again before setting it onto the bed. Two pieces of 4x4" 8 feet long wooden beams (bullnosed edges with the router and sanded on every side, so that I don't get hurt by splinters in my hands while handling the beams, Benno said) are laid across the bed to support the weight and to balance the gen set. From this position we are lowering the gen set slowly onto the cabin floor and more, although shorter, pieces of 4x4" wooden supports.

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The gen set has arrived!
Marlene
05/13/2011, Shelter Bay Marina, Panama

At last our new generator made it to the Shelter Bay Marina and is sitting now on Diesel Duck's aft deck.
On Monday, the 2nd of May, the cargo ship "Maersk Wolfsburg V" sailed into Colon with our generator stored in one of the containers. Mrs. Dayana Madrigal, from our custom broker, Aimar S.A., told us that they would not pick up the container until the following Monday, a week later, to bring into their warehouse in Panama City. Then, when all consolidated items of the container would be cleared through customs, the custom broker would arrange for the shipment of our generator back to Colon and on to Shelter Bay, now probably to arrive on Wednesday. But on Wednesday we were told "maňana".
Thursday morning dawned like doomsday. The sky turned pitch black and a torrential rain pelted down onto our decks. In fact, at 8 a.m. it was so dark that it felt like night time. Benno was fearful that it would be raining all day so he sent me into Colon to purchase a roll of plastic sheeting, because we didn't know if the generator would be covered in plastic. Luckily by midday the rain had stopped and even a little sun poked through the clouds.
So finally in the afternoon on Thursday, 10 days after arriving in Colon, our baby was delivered and we felt like new parents, too. A little annoying was the extra charge of $100 the custom broker sprung on us for a "custodian service" in cash of course. When I inquired what this was for, the explanation was that a customs person was required to accommodate the generator to make sure the goods were "in-transit" to Diesel Duck". I asked the truck driver where the "custodian" was and he just shrugged his shoulders.
We hired a forklift truck from the marina and in no time at all the gen set was unloaded by Victor the yard guru and set onto the sidewalk where Benno stripped off the shrink wrap, cardboard, excess support packaging and accessory boxes. Several guys from the marina staff hung around to have a look. They proved to be extremely helpful by lending a hand to shove the heavy engine onto a cart. Although heavy to push, Benno was just happy to bring her home! With the help of the boom and some extra muscle from a neighboring boat the generator came to rest on the aft deck. Stay tuned...



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05/14/2011 | Hillu
Hola Marlene und Benno - sieht ja gut aus euer "Baby". Viel Spass beim Einbau. Hoffe wir sehen euch noch einmal zum Sundowner im Indianerland!
Gruss Hillu und Hans von der "Destiny"
SSCA flags were spotted on power boats
Marlene
05/11/2011, Shelter Bay Marina, Panama

Diesel Duck arrived at the Shelter Bay Marina by the Panama Canal on April 24th. I noticed two other power boats tied to the docks that were flying their SSCA flags and we went to say hello. The "Two by Sea" from Palm Beach Gardens, FL and the "Serena Ray" from Blaine, WA. Very nice!
Since we were here last, three years ago, the place has changed a bit. The long-time stored boats on the hard are now all fenced in and are gated. Boats in the yard that need work are parked separate and the owners are encouraged to rent a room at the duration of haul-out at the onsite hotel (upstairs in the main building) at market price. If the owners opt to sleep onboard while hauled, a surcharge of $10/night is applied. Also if the boat had a slip to which it will return, the slip charge is applied on top of the haul-out charges. A swimming pool and hot tub were added to the premises as well as additional shower/washrooms. A gym with very nice equipment, but also of course for a user-fee was built for the enjoyment of the cruisers. The nicest addition, I think, is the large air-conditioned lounge upstairs with comfortable leather sofas, tables, chairs, Internet stations and a flat screen TV with DVD player. The marina premises now also sport a mini market and a small ship's chandlery with limited supplies, but at least it's something.
This morning the free marina shuttle bus to the "4Altos Mall" in Colon didn't arrive because there was a problem at the Panama Canal Bridge which got hit by a freighter and no traffic could pass. The bus also brings in the marina employees. Coincidently, the power went off at the marina docks at around 8 a.m. (it was off also for several hours on Sunday) and apparently the people who could fix the problem were on the bus! Naturally, today the weather is overcast, so our solar panels are not much help to keep up the charge for the house batteries. Even the boats with wind generators are out of luck as there is not a whiff of wind in the air. And yes, Benno and I removed our old generator last Sunday, so if the power doesn't come back on, we'll have to run the main engine to charge the batteries to keep the fridge and freezer going. Thank goodness we didn't have to do that as the hydro was restored in the afternoon and the canal brigde got fixed.


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Having fun while waiting
Marlene
04/30/2011, Colon, Panama

What is happening on Diesel Duck?
For several months now, Benno and I have been contemplating of buying another diesel generator. The one we have now, a one cylinder Farymann at 3600 RPM, 4.3 KW gen set from Norpro has accumulated 4500 hours in the past 5 years , but lately it needed more service and required more spare parts to keep up with our demand. We decided to order a new 5 KW Northern Lights with a 3 cylinder Lugger at 1800 RPM and it seems that it is a favorite model found on many yachts and the demand is high. The dealer for the new gen set wanted a money transfer for the purchase which didn't work from our secluded anchorage in the San Blas islands and to do this we had to leave the islands for a while to have this taken care of. At the same time we purchased the additional fuel hoses and other items required for the new installation. And of course we took the opportunity to restock our food lockers while we had the chance.
So then once we put that in motion, we returned to our favorite islands at Kuna Yala to do some more snorkeling while waiting for the new generator to come. The weather was absolutely lovely and we spent many hours between the reefs every day. On Diesel Duck we do not carry scuba equipment, so snorkeling it is with the occasional dive down to look at something, holding our breaths. I started to photograph underwater with an Olympus waterproof camera good for 33ft but most of the time I couldn't make out anything while wearing my mask and with the sun reflecting on the display. We bought an underwater housing for the camera which improved the view. But then Benno got me a Panasonic Lumix camera which has a 12x optical zoom with an underwater housing which works much better. It even has a built-in GPS.
But, alas, while I am trying to capture the underwater life I am being tossed around by the waves and the fish don't hold still either when I'm finally ready to press the shutter button they have moved on and my picture displays a lovely coral but NO fish! Thank goodness I don't have to pay for picture developing and I can just erase all this still life! However, some fish didn't get away and I would love to share my pics with you if I could find a way to post them in this blog so they can be enlarged to a decent size. The Photo Gallery which our blog provides is not great and the pics are still much too small.


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Oh No!!
Marlene
03/07/2011, Kuna Yala, Panama

Trolling for fish is fun and quite often we are successful in hauling in a good catch. A week ago, while coming back to the San Blas islands from a shopping trip at the El Rey supermarket in Sabanitas, Benno lost our lure, a "Blue Bomber" and the whole line spun out from the reel and ripped off when some big fish took a bite. Big, big fish!!!
This really was a tragedy because it was our only "Blue Bomber" lure, our--trophy -- good luck - dinner providing lure! But Paul and Sheryl came to our rescue when they brought with them from Canada a few "Rapala" lures which are quite similar. Naturally Benno wanted to try the new lure and get a good sized fish for all of us for dinner. So in-between island hopping the fishing rod was put to work. Not long after we had a strike. Big excitement on board and instructions were shouted to slow the boat, get the fish bonker, bucket, pliers and gloves. Paul grabbed his film camera and I went with my photo camera to capture the action.
The fish appeared to be at least three feet in size and he put on a big fight. Benno really used his muscles as he pulled hard and kept reeling him closer. Just when I thought I should hand Benno a gaff to bring him in, the fish jumped high in the air, spit out the lure, which had a lot of tension on the line and the "Rapala" lure with two sharp 3-prong hooks shot back to hook (as Benno commented dryly) into his family jewels, but thankfully they were protected by a good pair of swimming trunks.
We agreed that the fish that got away appeared to have been a Wahoo.


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Filming in the San Blas Islands
Marlene
03/06/2011, Kuna Yala, Panama

Toward the end of February our friends, Sheryl and Paul Shard, the film makers of the well known television series "Distant Shores" arrived for a visit onboard Diesel Duck here in the San Blas Islands. We were looking forward to seeing them again. Three years ago, they came to film an episode with us in the Virgin Islands (see: Season Five, Disk 1, episode: Virgin Islands) and this time they wanted to film the Kuna Indians, handmade colorful molas, palm covered islands that are surrounded by beautiful reefs amid azure blue water and a trip into the jungle. The "Distant Shore" series are aired on TV or you can buy their DVDs and also read their interesting blog and newsletters at "Distant Shores"
click here to get to their web site
Although this was a working vacation for Paul and Sheryl, it turned into a lot of fun for all of us. Benno certainly suggested and injected Paul with all kinds of ideas and took them to places that were worthwhile filming. However, our friends only stayed a little over a week and there is only so much you can do and see during this time. But the episode will be fantastic, so make sure you are going to watch it when it comes out!!!
In general, Kuna Indians are shy to be photographed or filmed and permission must always be given. We were encountering some Kuna women that were happy to be on film and when Paul showed them the footage he took of them, the girls giggled with delight.
I showed Sheryl the molas I had purchased and explained the different qualities. Almost all the Kuna women make molas, but we invited Lisa, a famous mola maker onboard to explain the methods of mola making to Sheryl and Paul and she was willing to be interviewed and filmed. Of course Sheryl bought a pile of molas from Lisa that were exquisite in color, design and stitching. The only problem was there were too many pieces to choose from.
And then there was another talented cruiser lady that made lovely jewelry who visited us while we were anchored off Green Island (Kanilildup) enjoying sundowners on the foredeck . Oh the choices one has to make....

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Mola shopping at the Lemmon Cays
Marlene
03/06/2011, Kuna Yala, Panama

Sheryl and Paul are viewing molas on display.

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Shopping for jewelry
Marlene
03/06/2011, Kuna Yala, Panama

Unique handcrafted jewelry brought to your boat by the artist and one piece nicer than the other. So which to choose from?

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Images from the jungle
Marlene
03/05/2011, Kuna Yala, Panama

Kuna women tending a fire at the family gravesite.

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Images from the jungle
Marlene
03/05/2011, Kuna Yala, Panama

High up on the mountain in the jungle we turned around at the waterfall. Here are shots of Paul attempting a jump down into the pool, Lisa in mid air and a Kuna guide jumping from the cliff. Refreshing and exciting.

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Images from the jungle
Marlene
03/05/2011, Kuna Yala, Panama

The Kuna men tend gardens up in the mountains and we saw banana trees in clearings. On the trail we came upon calabash trees, wild pineapple growing on the side and a coco bean ripening on the tree.

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